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THE 5 W’S OF CHILD ABDUCTION: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

In 2006, the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research published a paper on Victims of Abduction in NSW. It examined patterns from police data and detailed case studies. Here is some notable data that may be of interest to you in helping to protect your child from a possible abduction.

The Bureau found that attempted abduction incidents usually involve a female victim (87%), who is very likely to be under the age of 20 years (75%), and an offender who is a stranger (97%).


Based on the small proportion of attempted abductions for which a motive was known, attempted abductions appear to be overwhelmingly motivated by sexual desire (85% of incidents where a motive was known).


There are three dominant motives for abductions recorded by police: sexual desire (35%), robbery (29%) and retribution (24%). These motives accounted for 88 per cent of actual abductions in which the motive was known.


Abductions for retribution involved many complex personal situations generally characterised by the offender’s extreme anger towards the victim. The reasons behind these incidents included broken relationships, ongoing arguments, bad business and drug deals. Seventy-five per cent of all retribution incidents involved past or present intimate partners and, in many cases, the police narrative mentioned a history of domestic violence in the relationship. About two thirds of retribution victims were physically assaulted.


In 75 per cent of cases of attempted abduction, the offender approached the victim in a vehicle and tried to force or coerce the victim inside. In many cases, the offender stopped his or her vehicle close to the victim and directed them to “Get in!”. In some cases, the offender attempted to pull the victim into his or her vehicle. In the remaining cases, victims were either followed in a public place or the offender attempted to drag the victim away on foot.


The vast majority of attempted abduction victims manage to get away without sustaining physical injuries (91%) and weapon involvement is very uncommon (1%). The incident is generally reported to police by parents or victims, not because the incident had serious effects, but because of the potential for serious harm if the attempt had been successful.


It is important to note that police abduction statistics and media reports of abduction can be misleading in some ways. Much of the media focus is on incidents of abduction where the victim is raped and/or murdered. Abduction, however, is not always committed for reasons of sexual gratification or to obtain a ransom. Some abductions are committed as part of a robbery, others occur in the context of domestic violence. Some incidents that are recorded as abductions turn out, on further analysis, not to be abductions at all.


The purpose of this post is to provide a picture of the circumstances that give rise to reports of abduction and kidnapping in Australia. Of course, the numbers and circumstances can very widely throughout different states and over time, however it can be useful to know the nature of the offences recorded by police, the motivation of offenders, the age and gender of victims, the victim-offender relationship and the victim’s experience of physical and sexual violence.


If you found this information useful, please share it with a friend or family member. If you’d like to read the paper referred to in this post, you can find it at: https://www.bocsar.nsw.gov.au/Publications/CJB/cjb94.pdf


Stay safe!

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